Infant Oral Health in Palos Heights

Palos Pediatric Dentistry is here to help with your infant's oral health needs. Dr. Richard Facko is a skilled pediatric dentist in Palos Heights, IL. His experienced dental team loves working with children, and we look forward to meeting your little one in our dental office. Learn more about how we can help you maintain your infant's oral healthcare below.

Why Infant Oral Health Matters

The health of your baby’s gums and the first teeth set the stage for your child’s oral health throughout childhood and the rest of his or her life. Establishing a dental home early gives yourchild in dental chair in palos heights child the chance to see that regular dental care is a normal part of life. Just like you teach your child to use the toilet and brush his or her hair, teaching your child to care for their teeth is an important part of self-care and grooming, and early dental appointments help to “normalize” this behavior.

Dental fear and phobia are common in our society, with about 20 percent of American adults saying that they don’t get the regular care they need because they are afraid of the dentist. Seeing a pediatric dentist – a dentist who specializes in treating kids – helps your child make the association that the dentist’s office is a fun and safe place to be, greatly reducing the chances of developing a dental fear later in life.

Children with poor oral health have more missed days of school, more hospital emergency room visits, a reduced ability to learn at home and in school, and increased costs of dental care when compared to children with healthy teeth. Getting your child off to an early start will help reduce anxiety and provide a foundation for a lifetime of good dental health.

Common Infant Oral Health Issues in Palos Heights

Although oral health issues tend to be less common in infants, they do exist, and we want to make sure that they are addressed. One of the most common questions we are asked about infant oral health is regarding cleaning the gums and the first baby teeth.

Parents can use a soft infant washcloth and water to gently clean the gums after feeding or before bed. No toothpaste is necessary at this age, although infant toothpaste is available, and we are happy to discuss these with you at your request. When the first teeth come through, we’ll have a conversation with you about what to look for in an infant toothbrush and toothpaste so you can give your child the best possible start.

While a toothbrush and toothpaste are important tools in maintaining oral health, diet plays an equally crucial role. Children establish dietary habits early – within the first twelve months of life. That is why this is such a critical time to encourage your child to eat healthy foods and snacks. The best and simplest advice is to encourage milk and water and do not offer your child juice in any form, chocolate milk, or other sweetened beverages. Once a child starts these habits, change becomes very difficult. Adding sugar-sweetened beverages to a sippy cup or bottle prolongs the amount of time the sugar is on the teeth. Avoiding it altogether is the best approach, but if you must give your child a sweetened beverage, restrict exposure to mealtimes only, and give your child the sweetened beverage in a regular cup to minimize exposure on the teeth.

Dr. Facko is often asked about bottle and pacifier use and thumb-sucking. Pacifiers and thumb-sucking are ways that your child self-soothes, and this is perfectly appropriate in the early years. Once your child reaches the age of three, these habits can affect dental development, and we can discuss strategies to discourage them. We recommend that you never put your baby to bed with a bottle, especially if it contains anything other than water. Juice, formula, and even breast milk can pool in the mouth overnight and lead to decay in those little teeth.

When Should Your Child’s First Visit Take Place?

Like the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association, we recommend that your child’s first dental visit occur when the first tooth emerges or by his or her first birthday. Whichever special event arrives first should mark the beginning of their dental visits. 

infant after oral care exam in palos heightsThat said, we also believe in flexibility and trusting your instincts as a parent. If everything appears to be developing normally and you feel confident in your child’s health, then waiting until he or she is twelve months old is perfectly appropriate. If, however, you have any concerns about your child’s dental health, dental development, or oral habits, you are always welcome to call our Palos Heights pediatric dental office and request an appointment.

Why Are Regular Dental Visits Important for Children?

We know how busy you are as a parent, and we know every dental visit takes time out of your busy schedule. However, we also know that regular dental visits are vital to your child’s oral health, both in the short and long-term. 

In addition to helping prevent dental phobia down the line, dental visits play a big role in maintaining your growing child’s oral health, preparing them to develop and healthy, happy smile as their adult teeth come in.

Childhood dental visits are important for many reasons, including the ones we’ve listed below:

  • In our dental office, we can educate you and your child on proper brushing and flossing techniques, which will be useful for a lifetime.
  • During regular appointments, we can make recommendations on diet changes to help maintain or improve your child’s oral health. 
  • Regular dental cleanings ensure that if your child does begin to have problems with plaque buildup, which can lead to gum disease if not removed.
  • When your child comes in for an appointment, we may recommend sealants or fluoride treatments, helping prevent cavities from developing. 
  • Your child may be more encouraged to follow oral hygiene routines at home if they know they will be visiting our office soon. We will do everything we can to encourage their oral hygiene routine between appointments.
  • As your child grows and their permanent teeth begin to come in, we can monitor the progress and recommend orthodontic interventions if necessary. 

Additionally, even though your child’s baby teeth will fall out eventually, they still need to be healthy while they are in your child’s mouth to help prevent pain and infection. We will check your child’s baby teeth regularly for decay, and we will treat any cavities we find to help your child maintain excellent oral health.

Some dental treatments, like orthodontics, are easier and more effective when performed at a young age, so early intervention is important to our dental team. 

Basically, regular dental visits allow us to keep an eye on children’s oral health as they grow, so we can help them develop a bright, healthy smile, which they will appreciate as an adult. 

Why Palos Pediatric Dentistry?

At Palos Pediatric Dentistry, we treat your children as if they were our own. It’s as simple as that. Our focus is on preventive care and providing you and your child with the tools and information you need to help your child stay healthy.

Recent studies have shown a clear link between dental health and overall health, which has come to be known as the “oral-systemic link.” Providing specialized dental care for your child is just as important as your child’s yearly check-ups with the pediatrician. In addition to providing exams and cleanings, we will also review your child’s diet and hygiene habits and provide specific recommendations to help your child remain healthy.

We deeply value your involvement with your young child and invite you to accompany your child during his or her visit. We’ll always take the time to discuss your child’s care and health with you – you are, after all, a vital part of your child’s healthcare team!

Call our office today to schedule an appointment for your infant and take the first steps toward a lifetime of healthy habits.

We look forward to seeing your child’s beautiful smile in our dental office.